Allegory of History (1615-1620). Jusepe de Ribera (Spanish, 1591-1652). Oil on canvas. The State Hermitage Museum.

Ribera moved to Naples permanently in the middle of 1616. His Spanish nationality aligned him with the small Spanish governing class in the city, and also with the Flemish merchant community, from another Spanish territory, who included important collectors of and dealers in art.

“Ted... I’ve got a serious question.”

Ted the Animator: “Huh? Wait, what’s wrong?”

Carl the Animator: “Nothing huge, just… do you have a second?”

Ted the Animator: “…I’ve never seen you like this before. Did someone die?!”

Carl the Animator: “No, no, chill, I’ve just got something bugging me right now. Can we talk?”

Ted the Animator: “Yes! Yes. The pen’s down, just say it… goodness, you’re freaking me out, here.”

Carl the Animator: “Ok, well, here goes…. I think I can do it. Deep breaths, staying calm… just need to–”

Ted the Animator: “JUST *SAY* IT!”

Carl the Animator: “…speaking of staying calm.”

Ted the Animator: “Sorry, sorry… suspense about seemingly-bad things always freaks me out.”

Carl the Animator: “Well, uh… to put it simply… when I was a kid, I’d watch Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and–”

Ted the Animator: “…wait, what?

Carl the Animator: “In Rudolph, they have this song, and–”

Ted the Animator: “What on earth does this have to do with anything?”

Carl the Animator: “The song the elves sing… why do they sing abou–”

Ted the Animator: …wait, all that wind-up was for a question about freakin’ Rudolph? I thought you were seriously traumatized over something!”

Carl the Animator: "This is a very serious and traumatizing matter.”

Ted the Animator: ”…huh?”

Carl the Animator: “Have you seen Rudolph before, Ted?“

Ted the Animator: "Like, meaning the ‘60s Christmas special? Uh… yes?”

Carl the Animator: “Do you remember the elves’ song?”

Ted the Animator: “l think? Sorta?”

Carl the Animator: “Have you ever really thought about it?”

Ted the Animator: “…no. No, Carl, I haven’t.”

Carl the Animator: "I envy you. There are darker implications hiding just under the surface.”

Ted the Animator: ”…”

Carl the Animator: “Part-way in, the elves perform their big song for Santa. Not just any song, mind you – one praising and extolling the virtues of Santa, and how their lives revolve around him.”

Ted the Animator: “…uh-huh?”

Carl the Animator: "Doesn’t it seem just a little weird to sing a song like that directly to the subject? Either they have an unhealthy adoration of their employer, which is creepy, or Santa requires them to sing it, which is even creepier.”

Ted the Animator: ”…hm.”

Carl the Animator: “And it doesn’t end there. Oh no, that’s just the beginning.”

Ted the Animator: “Uh-oh.”

Carl the Animator: "During their song, we see all these reactions where Santa’s irritated…” 

Carl the Animator: ”…even unwilling to mask his disappointment and boredom.”

Ted the Animator: “Not exactly his jolly old self, huh?”

Carl the Animator: "Not at all, Ted… not at all.”

Carl the Animator: "And to top it all off, at the end, he just says ‘Well, it needs work. I have to go’…”

Carl the Animator: "And just leaves, slamming the door on his way out.

Ted the Animator: ”…oh.”

Carl the Animator: “No thank-you given. No ‘Gee, elves, I really appreciate this tribute you’ve practiced all year for me.’ Santa gives them nothing but a reminder that they don’t hold up to his standards, and further neglection.”

Ted the Animator: "That… wow.”

Carl the Animator: "In that moment, as a kid, I realized the true villain of the story wasn’t the Bumble… it was Santa all along.

Ted the Animator: ”…I had no idea Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was an allegory for emotionally-abusive relationships.”

Carl the Animator: “We can only guess as to what Yukon Cornelius and his sled dogs might represent.”